Hazardous Duty

First in the Squeaky Clean Mystery series by Christy Barritt.

This was a quick undemanding read. I’d just completed a particularly harrowing book which was also a bit heavy on profanities and this book is genuinely squeaky clean and a pleasant relief.

For the best of reasons Gabby St. Claire had to drop out of her forensic science degree and these days she sees the aftermath of crime through her crime scene cleaning business. When, in the course of her job, she uncovers a murder weapon overlooked by the police she simultaneously becomes a thorn in the side of the police who are convinced they’ve got their man and a target for the real killer who knows they haven’t.

“Whistling a tune from Fiddler on the Roof, I used my tweezers to work a piece of Gloria Cunningham’s skull out of the sky blue wall” is a promising opening line and a good indicator of the feel of the book; not taking itself too seriously but not too sparing on the gore.

The story has both a Christian and a romantic subplot (actually it’s pretty much the same subject plot) . In terms of genre I think that makes it Christian, mystery/crime, chick lit and I suspect it’s also pitched at Young Adults. I’m not altogether the target reader but a few weeks after finishing it I find myself curious to know what happens next. When next I feel in need of some light relief I may well try book 2.

Posted in Christian

Where the Dead Fall

By MJ Lee.

Two good opening chapters that really captured my attention. It held my attention and I picked it up at every opportunity. We get a good sense of who DI Ridpath is just in time for him to almost run over a man naked, except for his boxers, in the middle of the M60 motorway.

Where the Dead Fall is a police procedural and it does get a bit procedural at times. Plenty of jargon, not just police but coroner's for good measure. No idea how accurate it all is but the story kept me hooked and, to me, it read as if MJ Lee had done the research.

Who is the gunman (only seen by Ridpath) chasing the under-clothed victim, who were his captors and why do they want to start a gang war? All is revealed as Ridpath and his colleagues painstakingly assemble the pieces of the jigsaw.

A good cliffhanger at the end and I'd be interested to read the next installment.

ARC courtesy Netgalley.
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction

Buried in the Stacks

By Allison Brook.

I was in the mood for a cosy mystery and this one sounded like fun: "Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin'. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?" Could be Randall and Hopkirk (deceased)?

I have to say, for an investigator Carrie is incredibly indiscrete! To be fair, I'm not really the target reader but even so I'm not sure a cosy mystery needs to be this cosy! Allison Brook seems to have a serious food obsession, every meal was described in detail. The homeless storyline felt like an episode of Quincey M.E.: couldn't agree more with the sentiments but I was convinced it (like the food and the wedding plans) wasn't relevant to the mystery at hand.

Things improved once the mystery got underway but it wasn't really to my taste.
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction

Believe Me

By JP Delany.

I was totally conflicted about this book. A great concept - Claire is the ultimate unreliable narrator - and a storyline that had me hooked. Sadly, the lead character didn't inspire empathy and the general morality and ethics mean I wouldn't recommend.
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction

Bitter Edge

By Rachel Lynch.

It's an open and shut case, obviously teenage suicide and the reader knows it. But when other cases DI Kelly Porter and her team are working on start to show links the investigation becomes a personal obsession.

Bitter Edge is the fourth in the Kelly Porter series but the first I've read.  It was pretty harrowing and I wouldn't have tackled it if I'd known the subject matter in advance. There were also so many back references (I presume spoilers) that I wouldn't be in a hurry to read the previous books.
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction

The Nowhere Child

By Christian White.

Fast paced and immediately engaging. Imagine everything you thought you knew about yourself slipped between your fingers with the visit of a stranger. There is no reason why in everyway ordinary photography teacher Kim Leamy should believe the stranger but curiosity gets the better of her and she is quickly drawn into the nightmare world of small-town Kentucky twenty years past.

It doesn't feel like a debut novel and I'm sure Christian White has a few more to come. As another reviewer has said the language was unnecessarily coarse at times and the homosexual affair, while adding to the nightmare, also added an awkwardness to the story: oddly, of all the unfolding madness, the way this storyline unfolded seemed least believable.
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction

Wolfhunter River

By Rachel Caine.

I'd just finished a book and was in the mood for another so I took a look at the current most popular offerings on Netgalley and thought this was worth a go. It's described as the third in the Stillhouse Lake series of books by Rachel Caine. Not having read the first two I wasn't sure how easily I'd get up to speed. I needn't have worried.

Gina Royal was the woman next door, mum to two children, wife to average Joe, until average Joe turns out to have been a serial killer. Now Gwen Proctor, she struggles to protect her children from the notoriety of her husband and the vigilantes who do all in their power to avenge his crimes in the mistaken belief Gina/Gwen had to have known what her husband was doing.

"Third in the series" made me wonder if there would be more to come and how you would transition from a particular story to a series of new ones. I suspect this book is the transition and, as such, may not be quite as strong as the previous two nor any that follow as it ties up loose ends and sets the scene.

These are characters I could care about, though the story seemed a bit far fetched (even if the component parts could have been lifted from recent news coverage) and the body count was seriously high. I think a fourth in the series would have readers coming back for more.
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder

By Sarah J Harris.
A witness who obsessively watches the victim's house, paints all that goes on with detailed notes including times and was there when the murder happened. It should be a detective's dream especially as Jasper is really keen to help the police. But 13 year old Jasper has Autism and his synesthesia and face blindness mean no-one is listening. Told in the first person, this can be a little challenging as Jasper tells his story in the colours of the sounds he hears. It's a fascinating concept for a whodunnit and even if it isn't 100% true to the life experience I felt I was getting something of an insight.

Life in the neighbourhood is thoroughly disrupted when the bohemian Bee Larkham moves in. What happens next unfolds in the words of Jasper Wishart whose face blindness means he relies on voices and clothing to recognise people. Further complication is provided by his synesthesia which means he experiences sounds in vivid colour and paints, not what he sees, but what he hears.

Page turner!
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction

The Wives

Oops! Lauren Weisberger's The Wives popped up in my inbox from netgalley and in my anxiety not to miss it I neglected to check if it was my type of thing. Definitely not! My thing is crime and mystery this is chick lit (with some strong language, as it turns out). I thought I'd give it a go having downloaded it. Serious mistake! I was hooked. There was a mystery and a bit of detection and it was a really easy read.

Emily Charlton from The Devil Wears Prada makes a reappearance as an image consultant with a career on the skids. Karolina Hartwell, former supermodel now senator's wife, arrested for DUI, is the client of a lifetime. Miriam, the third of the titular wives, is now a homemaker but her legal training together with Emily's pr skills make them a formidable team in their bid to vindicate their friend.

Couldn't put it down. Would I recommend it? Of course not, it's not my type of book ...
Posted in Crime and Detective Fiction